Today, after reading about lagomorphs at A Secular Franciscan Life, I got to thinking about one of the most well known lagomorphs (with possible exception of “Bugs” the “What’s-up-Doc?” lagomorph). Of course, that would be the Easter Bunny.
Although I believed in Santa Claus far longer than I probably should have (I had no brothers or sisters to take joy in bursting my bubble), I never really bought into the Easter Bunny thing. After all, Santa was a human being, and I was prepared to suspend my doubts about the flying reindeer, the digs in the North Pole, and the amazing speed at which he would have had to work on Christmas Eve in order to make all his stops.
The Easter Bunny was quite a different matter. My first remembrance of the Easter Lagomorph was being hoisted onto the lap of a six-foot rabbit (seven and one half feet, if you count the ears) in a local department store. As I recall, the experience scared the dog shit out of me. It was frightening enough to find myself in the clutches of a huge rabbit, but things went straight into the dumper when I heard the damned thing talk! I suspect it asked me what I wanted for Easter, as if there was an option other than an Easter Basket full of candy. However, I don’t remember exactly what the large rabbit said, for I was pre-occupied with trying to figure out why my mother had surrendered me to a large, fuzzy, talking animal.
After a moment or two on the creature’s lap, I noticed that somewhere under the large beast’s nose was a wire mesh, behind which I could see the outline of a real person inside. So, early on, I knew that the Easter Bunny was so much baloney. Sure, my mother tried to convince me that the Easter Bunny was the real deal, but I wasn’t having it.
For one thing, unlike Santa, the Easter Bunny lacked any means of transportation, which would be essential to allow him/her/it (the sex of the Easter Bunny was also never quite clear to me) to drop off all those Easter baskets to all those houses. Plus, as if a talking rabbit wasn’t crazy enough, the Easter Bunny I had my picture taken with those many years ago spoke with a Jersey accent.
Had I taken just a bit of initiative (and maybe had been a few years older), I would have learned that the Easter Bunny traces its roots to an Anglo-Saxon pagan festival that celebrated the coming of spring by worshipping the goddess “Eastre” through her earth symbol, the rabbit. Because the pagan celebration roughly coincided with the date on which the resurrection was celebrated by Christians, “Eastre” became a handy way for the Christians to ease the pagans into celebrating the resurrection of Christ.
I would have also learned that the Easter Rabbit was introduced to the U.S. by German immigrants. It was not until after the Civil War that Christians in America paid any attention to the Easter Bunny, or Easter itself, for that matter.
But, I had no such initiative. I didn’t much care about the history of the Easter Bunny. I was satisfied just knowing that Santa was real and that the Easter Bunny was bullshit.
Besides, I never much cared for candy anyway.